Reflections from the Past: Video Series

In April 2012, the Pathways to Prosperity (P2P) initiative formed a partnership with the Canadian Immigration Historical Society (CIHS) to develop a video interview series featuring former immigration officials, practitioners and researchers. The primary aim of the series was to construct an oral history of immigration from the perspective of insiders whose experience spanned all aspects of decision-making, from political and policy decisions through to program development and operational logistics, sometimes requiring heroic, and largely unheralded, efforts. A closely related objective was to make this historical experience available to the current generation of policymakers, practitioners and researchers so it could inform the issues of the day.

The first results of the P2P-CIHS collaboration are now available. The video series, Reflections from the Past, features three hour-long interviews and a group panel discussion with Michael Molloy, Raphael Girard, and Gerry Van Kessel. The three served as Directors-General, responsible for refugee policy, at Citizenship and Immigration Canada over a period spanning three decades. The interviews were conducted by Martha Nixon, a former Assistant Deputy Minister at Citizenship and Immigration Canada, who was responsible for the Ministry’s operational arm during the 1990’s. All four officials will be well known to anyone connected to Canadian immigration and refugee issues from the early eighties through the end of the millennium.

The interviews offer personal and professional appraisals of the key issues and considerations of the time, a formative period in the legislative and organizational development of Canada’s overseas and domestic approaches to refugee determination and refugee selection. Collectively, they are essential viewing for anyone wishing to gain an insight into the key political and operational decisions, and the decision-making environment, of the time. Equally, viewing the videos will reward current practitioners and researchers, offering them a unique perspective on current challenges and their historical antecedents.

Now that the initial refugee interview series has been successfully concluded, the CIHS and the P2P Partnership have begun discussions on a second topic. The most likely choice will involve an examination of economic immigration beginning with the advent of immigration levels planning in the early eighties and continuing through the nineties and, perhaps, later. This stretch covers the period when formal immigration planning and levels management systems were first introduced and follows them as they gradually mature and become increasingly complex, with multiple streams and deepening provincial involvement. Many of the policy discussions and program changes undertaken during this period prefigure recent trends and decisions. Interviews with former federal and provincial officials are anticipated to begin in the Fall.